Getting more from our pickups by addressing minor repairs before they become major ones
We recently had our mechanic replace the power locks on our Ford Super Duty Crew, which made it feel like a new truck. Intermittently operating door locks had made the pickup feel old and tired, which is why this repair was important. It seemed to bring new life to the truck and kept it in the fleet.
Almost as important as functionality, staying on top of such repairs can help improve your attitude about your truck and it can improve your company’s bottom line. Here’s why:
Most of us are aware that regular or recurring maintenance is an important aspect of vehicle operations.
Maintaining oil, fluid levels, tire pressure, tread depth and brake components are all critical to the ongoing operation of your pickup, extending component life and improving safety.
But what about those nagging little annoyances like the power door locks I mentioned?
You can get the job done with a loose piece of trim, a torn mud flap or a window that doesn’t operate consistently, but these back-burner repair concerns can quickly compound, and you need to stay on top of them to keep your fleet effective.
In accounting terms, non-recurring repairs benefit more than one accounting period and extend the useful life of the asset.
When pickup repairs are done in a timely fashion, related components are not compromised. You also feel good about driving it and you’re not window shopping for a replacement.
The attitudes of employees work the same way: If they are driving a clean, like-new pickup, they will be happy with what they have. They will also continue to take care of it, not wanting to be the one to cause damage.
If, on the other hand, they are assigned a truck with torn seats, missing knobs and stained floor mats they’ll jump right in without shaking off dust, scraping off mud and removing hand tools from their pockets, which will serve to accelerate disrepair.
It is difficult to communicate that an employee is responsible to care for his company pickup when the previous drivers obviously did not.
Need I mention retention? Keeping your employees around is often dependent upon how comfortable they feel with their work environment and with having the right support to get the job done. Their pickups can play a big role in realizing that they are in the right place of employment.
The condition of your pickups also create impressions with customers about the condition of your company.
If your trucks are well maintained and clean, customers are left with a good impression. A dash buried in paper work and dust, a dangling wire, missing bumper trim and year-old road grime can make you look disorganized and careless.
Speaking of clean, getting familiar with your local car wash can be a good business practice. If you figure your time is worth something (and it is), taking your pickup through an automated wash as needed can save a lot of time.
This is easier with a sealed toolbox, tonneau or truck cap if you keep much gear in the back. A quick once over with the powerful vacuum cleaners at the car wash helps keep interior dirt from accumulating.
For a deep clean, it’s a good idea to schedule a once-a-year cleaning by a professional detail shop.
Depending on the level of service you choose, they can do wonders with the exterior clear coat and the interior finishes. The transformation to bug splattered grills and dust filled HVAC vents can seem to take five years off of the truck.
In the event that a pickup will be traded in, this detailing and detailed attention to minor maintenance issues can mean a better return at the dealer.
However, getting more life from your pickups means your rolling stock budget can improve the functionality of your trucks rather than simply replacing the vehicle.
You can, for example, buy that lift and a taller wheel/tire combo. You can finally get equipped with the winch you want or a proper rack for form boards.
In a real sense, your trucks can live longer and work stronger.
If adversity can make us stronger, one of our new strengths should be an appreciation for longer pickup life. What was once trade-in time is now only half way through a truck’s life cycle.
To make this a lesson well learned, we need to be consistent about keeping of top of minor repairs so the longer years we spend with our pickups is will help us take pride in our rides even in their waning years.
About the author: Robin Walton has been a licensed contractor for more than 20 years and has 16 years of financial accounting and systems experience. With a degree in accounting/economics and hands-on construction experience, she understands the day-to-day business of contractors and landscapers.